Dr. Barbara B Simons Simons

Digital Library

ACM Policy Award

USA - 2019


For long-standing, high-impact leadership as ACM President and founding Chair of ACM's U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM), while making influential contributions to improve the reliability and confidence in election technology.

Twenty-six years ago, Barbara Simons founded ACM's U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM) to address emerging public policy issues around technology, and led the committee for the next nine years. She worked to build ACM's policy activities in areas such as privacy, surveillance, crypto policy, intellectual property, and voting technology. She pioneered bridging the technical expertise of computer scientists with the policy making of the U.S. government.

Barbara Simons received her PhD in computer science from UC Berkeley, and had a distinguished career working on optimization algorithms at IBM Research. She is a Fellow of ACM and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition to establishing the public policy committee, her service to ACM includes President (1998-2000) and current Co-Chair of ACM's U.S. Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) Voting subcommittee; she served as Secretary of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) in 1999. She is internationally known as an expert on voting technology and an advocate for auditable paper based voting systems, has co-authored numerous reports on verifiable voting (including opposing internet voting), and co-authored the book, Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count? Simons currently chairs the Board of Directors of Verified Voting and is a member of the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Through her publications, reports, testimony to Congress, and advocacy, she has been a key player in persuading election officials to shift to paper-based voting systems, and contributed to proposals for reforms in election technologies and processes. One of her endorsers celebrates Simons' "expertise, her collaboration with other experts and colleagues, her commitment to scientific evidence, and her ability to pursue a highly charged political issue on a non-partisan basis."

Press Release

Outstanding Contribution to ACM Award

USA - 2001


For nearly two decades of outstanding work with respect to computing and public policy, including service as President and Secretary of ACM, chair of ACM's Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights, and founding chair and subsequent co-chair of ACM's U.S. Public Policy Committee, providing a forceful, effective voice for ACM and the computing community.

During this time, Dr. Barbara Simons has made valuable contributions to ACM in the public policy arena, and has demonstrated her leadership capacity several times. In 1987, Dr. Simons chaired ACM's Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights, which helped make ACM's voice heard on issues relating to the persecution of computing scientists outside of the United States. In subsequent years, she continued to be an activist in this arena with service on the ACM Committee on Public Policy, the SIGACT Science Policy Committee and SIGACT Vice Chair, the Computing Research Association's Public Policy Committee and, as Secretary of ACM, the Council and Executive Committee.

In 1993, Dr. Simons founded ACM's U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM). As one of the endorsers of her nomination for this award wrote, "forming USACM was, in itself, a pioneering idea, but Simons made sure the idea also was executed in a pioneering way...she recruited not only scientists and industry-based technologists who care about technology policy issues to serve on the committee, but also lawyers, law professors, and others in the academic world who wanted to make a positive contribution to technology policy." Through Dr. Simons' leadership as USACM's founding chair, and subsequently as ACM President and more recently USACM co-chair, USACM has provided a forceful, effective voice for ACM and the computing community. It has provided cogent advice and analysis to legislators and other policy makers about such wide-ranging issues as cryptography and computer security policy, privacy and intellectual property legislation, and funding for basic science and computing research.

Dr. Simons had the vision and the talent to make ACM successful in the public policy arena. She inspired and persuaded other talented people to make commitments to important projects in this area. Her effectiveness in this regard continues to this day.

ACM Fellows

USA - 1994